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Cynical GOPers Hope to Fire Up the Suckers with Birth-Right Nonsense

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Mitch McConnell said he wanted to have "hearings" on the 14th Amendment, and the automatic citizenship it confers on the children of immigrants, regardless of their legal status. Then he backed off, sort of, and now he's talking about it again.

TPM:

"Many of these positions have been coming from the extreme side," Janet Murguía, president of the National Council of La Raza, said in response to a question from TPM. "Now we're starting to see obviously more mainstream voices with that push and it's extremely troubling to us."

Murguía was referring to  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellSen. John McCain and other top Republicans who say they are open to hearings looking at whether the Constitution should be changed to deny citizenship to children born of illegal immigrants who are on U.S. soil.

Comments from McConnell, Sen. John Kyl and Sen. Lindsey Graham are "an affront to the constitution we've established in this country, Murguía said. "It's pretty clearly established in the Constitution that that is recognized law, and this kind of a challenge should give us all pause."

It's troubling, yes. Dangerous, even. It's scary to consider the kind of once-fringey positions that have become mainstream -- what elected officials are willing to discuss publicly these days. I don't want to downplay that.

But it's not going to go anywhere, and everyone involved knows it. It's not just that the 14th Amendment is pretty straightforward, it's also that the principle of automatic citizenship for everyone born here (accept the offspring of diplomatic staff) has been reaffirmed by the courts time and time again (I'll have a feature on the next week).

So no legislative fix is going to do the trick -- they'd have to amend the Constitution. And I wonder how many Tea Party types are even aware that doing so requires a 2/3 super-majority in both chambers of congress, and then has to be ratified by 3/4 of the state legislatures (or conventions). There have been over 100,000 amendments proposed, and 27 have made it. None took away any fundamental rights.

In other words, this is a perfect wedge issue for right-wing demagogues. They can rail about it endlessly and never win, never settle it. It'll just continue to add to the conservative "plenty-plaint." And it'll be a source of endless grievance-based fundraising. But the rubes will buy into it -- they'll think it's a legitimate effort to make public policy rather than a cynical ploy to fire up their passions.

Also: see Seth Hoy's piece in Special Coverage.